Millennials and Restaurants

A match made in heaven or hell?

We know the adoption of smartphones has brought a major shift to nearly every industry; restaurants are certainly one this technology has touched. While these phones have become a staple to have by us at all times, they have certainly introduced new challenges into how we approach basic social norms and etiquette. In our time of constant connectivity, what does that look like in restaurants specifically? How is it shaping new restaurant policies to your bottom line? Keep reading to find out.

Reshaping the customer experience

Plain and simple, smartphones have become a part of our daily lives. This new always-on reality has disrupted traditional values of using meals for times of connection. But a new survey by Pew Research Center found that 88% of respondents still believe it’s “generally” not OK to use a cell phone during dinner. While identifying the line between when to shift attention away from real conversations to digital encounters has become far more blurry, it seems the majority agrees- the more time we spend with our phones, the less we have for each other.

Chef Mendelsohn added his thoughts on the issue saying “I think we’re all heading in the direction where we miss a lot of great moments in life because we’re so attached to our phones,” he says. “People just need to realize there are places you could use it, there are places where you shouldn’t want to use it.”
using phone in restaurant

Reshaping restaurant policy

To create the best experience possible for guests, some owners have taken action to ban or discourage the use of phones altogether. Mark Gold, chef and owner of Eva’s, recently created a new policy that offers 5% off the total bill to diners that leave their cell phones at the door. Gold says the policy was implemented to motivate diners to sit back and enjoy their food and the people that are actually there with them. The result? More than 40% of guests have participated.

Another chef has taken a slightly different take on the issue as it relates to food photography. Chef David Bouley cut off guests taking photos because the photos were coming out poorly and interrupting the guests around them. To combat this, instead of telling people to not take photos of their food, he simply takes them back into his kitchen to shoot as the plates come out. “We’ll say, ‘That shot will look so much better on the marble table in our kitchen,’ ” Mr. Bouley said. “It’s like, here’s the sauce, here’s the plate.” Not only does this make more of an adventure for his guests, it creates a far stronger photo behind the story.

Restaurants that support customers taking photos say, “These people are paying me and doing social media for me, it’s the greatest thing ever.” Those on the other side of the argument have strong feelings saying things like, “We are not an Apple superstore,” one chef said, adding that he sees table-top tech as “one of the worst dining trends ever.” According to USA Today.

Defining the impact on your bottom line

At the end of the day what you want to know is if this cultural shift will have a positive or negative impact on your bottom line. While some owners think today’s technologically distracted diners take longer to order, longer to eat, and longer to pay, more seem to think the positive impact of driving in new customers outweighs the hinderance. At the end of the day, it seems the rise in technology is bringing in more people and diners are getting a better feel for where the line should be drawn for using their phones in restaurants.

Read more about how you can harness the smartphone usage that happens in your restaurant to create authentic word of mouth for your restaurant.